Synergy 101: How to improve collaboration among your team members

6285993 - group of young business people talking on business meeting at office.According to IGI Global, the definition of collaborative synergy is: “an interactive process that engages two or more participants who work together to achieve outcomes they could not accomplish independently, in an open, integrated process (operational, procedural and cultural) that fosters knowledge collaboration, influenced by a transformational leadership that encourages participants to expand connections beyond typical boundaries and achieve required… outcomes.”

In a nutshell, synergy is the most ideal form of collaboration among members of the same team. To achieve synergy among your employees, it’s important to foster that “open, integrated process” by giving them opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills required to succeed both on their own and on the team. Here are some ways you can create a more synergistic workplace environment:

What Types of Collaborators Are They?

First and foremost, it’s important to determine what type of collaborator each member of your team is, because not all collaborative styles are the same, and you can tailor your management strategies to meet each employee’s unique needs. Central Desktop developed a typology of 9 different collaborative styles, ranging from more introverted Stealth Ninjas, Siloists and Dinosaurs to the more outspoken and extroverted Ringleaders, Socialites, Taskmasters and Skeptics, to name a few.

Central Desktop offers a quiz that you and your employees can take to figure out what each of your collaborative styles are. Once you understand how each person on your team approaches collaborative situations, you’ll be much better equipped to help them succeed in your organization.

Equalize Contribution Opportunities

On a typical workday, you don’t have a lot of free time to sit around and throw out ideas in an endless meeting. The problem with team meetings limited to an hour or so is that not everyone will get the opportunity to contribute ideas, especially those who are more quiet, introverted, or need time to mentally process their ideas before verbally offering them up for the group’s consideration.

In order to level the playing field for team members who might be more hesitant to immediately throw out ideas or offer criticism, you should expand your feedback channels so ideas, criticism and other discussion-related matters aren’t limited to a single meeting every day (or even once per week). To accomplish this, you must reaffirm to your employees that you’re always open to new suggestions and that they should either email you about anything they come up with after the designated meeting time or they should contribute their suggestions to a dedicated comment box (which can be a digital space where you accept feedback or a physical box where they can leave handwritten suggestions – it’s up to you).

Open Yourself to Criticism

One of the primary reasons collaboration suffers in some workplaces is that people are overly sensitive to criticism, which either leads to people silencing their thoughts in fear of backlash or amplifying conflict among coworkers. To overcome this obstacle, it’s your job as a leader to serve as a role model for receiving criticism.

You can start by explaining the difference between constructive and destructive criticism, then directly tell your employees that you’re always willing to listen to criticism (even if it involves you). For best results, follow through on this promise by directly addressing how you’ll resolve your employees’ complaints, or explain why you can’t or won’t do anything about it – clear communication is vital.